From food blogger to popular Instagrammer, she travels the world to find the best bites — and shares her heart along the way.
Corey Marshall’s Instagram account — @MissFoodieProblems — was named one of Zagat Foodie Award’s top 101 food Instagrammers of 2017. But with over 80k followers on Instagram, a thriving blog in Miss Foodie Problems, and a series of partnerships lined up, 2018 has been her best year yet.
As the Instagram scene and algorithm continue to evolve, influencers have learned that the only constant is change — and Marshall has carved out a niche at the intersection of food and travel, set apart by personality and authenticity. Beloved for her unapologetic willingness to speak up about personal topics, Marshall often shares the less-than-glamorous parts of the industry and is known to get real about everything from ingredients to Instagram updates.
Miss Foodie Problems herself, Corey Marshall, talked with Crixeo about the keys to social media success, the evolution of advertising partnerships, and the future of Instagram as a platform.
When did you first launch Miss Foodie Problems, and what was the account’s genesis? What were you doing for work before?
February 2018 marked three years [of having the account], and I actually started it when I was nannying. I already had an Instagram called @MissFashionistaProblems, and was seeing a ton of food photos going up and people starting food-centric accounts. I was already taking photos of food and posting them on my other account, so it just kind of made sense. I felt like something was happening in the food space on social media, and I wanted to be a part of that. So I started @MissFoodieProblems to keep the branding the same, and started with posting photos that I already had — I wanted to start with a full-looking account. And I would go to similar accounts, and do what people pay bots to do now — like photos, to get people to come and look at your profile. That’s how it all started. But I’ve always loved food. My mom always cooked at home and my dad would pack my lunches as a kid. It’s always been a positive thing in my life.
How has the Miss Foodie Problems brand changed since you started the account in 2015, and what has influenced shifts in content, structure or theme?
Honestly, people ask how I was successful, and a lot of it was timing. There weren’t a million other food accounts at that point, and Instagram was still seen as new-ish. When I started, it was literally just food photos of what I was eating around town, but after a while I decided I wanted it to have personality behind it. I remember being so afraid to post my first photo of myself, but now I feel like that’s kind of why my brand is what it is. It’s because of my personality that I get certain partnerships and opportunities to go on trips and stuff. So that was a really important step, and Instagram stories have helped too, because followers can actually see the person behind the account. I hope that people enjoy the authenticity — I feel like that’s kind of where everything’s going right now, and people want that more than really ever before.
In the past, you’ve spoken up about how the ever-changing Instagram algorithm can hurt influencers who refuse to buy followers or pay for advertising. What is it like trying to keep up with a platform that’s constantly evolving in this way?
It can be extremely frustrating. At first I was really struggling and just didn’t know what to do. But at this point I’ve had to accept that I pretty much have no control over it. There’ll be a period of time where my posts will do super well, and then one will fall off and then for a while they don’t get much engagement — so I literally have no clue what’s going on. I’ve kind of come to the point where I just try to accept that it’s out of my control and, instead, focus on what I can control, which is putting out content that I’m proud of.
You’ve done content partnerships with companies including Benihana, The Giving Keys and Dannon. What role do ads play in the social media space today? How do you navigate the necessity of engaging with other brands while maintaining the integrity of your own?
I remember the first time I uploaded a sponsored post, I was very nervous — especially because I hadn’t really seen many other people doing it at that time. It was scary, and I didn’t know what people were going to think. But now I’ve realized that it’s just going to be part of the experience. That’s kind of what Instagram is now, a way for brands to advertise to people.
But obviously I don’t want every single post to be an ad, and I think at the very beginning I almost said yes to everything just because it was exciting and I was trying it all out. I feel like I’ve now come to a point where it’s more about partnering with brands that I actually like and want to back, not just anyone who reaches out to me. I also try to come up with interesting concepts — I think [native advertising] just needs to be about creating good content and being genuine about repping something.
Especially over the past year, your posts have evolved to include more travel and fashion content in addition to travel. What have been some of the best experiences you’ve had the opportunity to write about?
One standout would probably be a trip I took last February to the Philippines. It was a 10-day trip, and we went to a ton of different cities with seven other influencers — a really diverse range of people and an incredible experience being there. And then two years ago I got invited to some really cool Coachella parties, which was my first taste of attending an event that celebrities were invited to as well. That was just an interesting experience and very out-of-the-box for me. And then another event that was a highlight for me was that I got to go to Desert Trip and bring my mom. She said to me, while we were watching Paul McCartney in the stadium seats, that it was the fourth-best day of her life, aside from marrying my dad and having her kids. That meant everything.
What else do you think defines Miss Foodie Problems and sets you apart from other food bloggers and influencers?
Well, it originally came from Miss Fashionista Problems — the concept behind it was fashionista problems — having a full closet of clothes but never having anything to wear. Then foodie problems are something like — there are always new restaurants you want to try and never enough time, or things opening and closing so often. I feel like what differentiates my account from others’ is that I actually share what’s going on in my life, and it’s not always the highlight reel. I’m real about stuff, especially on stories where I can be exactly who I am, including all the not-so-perfect things. I think people just like to relate honestly, and I think a lot of other influencers might be afraid to share that stuff. I kind of was like that at the beginning, but now if someone doesn’t want to follow me because I posted something like that, then I’d rather not have them following along.
What do you see as being the future for both yourself and for influencer content? Do you think it’s temporary, or will it continue to evolve into its own beast? Where do we go from here?
It’s interesting to think back on the evolution of social media in general. Being our age and seeing where it started, like MySpace and stuff, and seeing how really only just now it’s starting to be this big. I mean, back in the MySpace days, I remember seeing people trying to do this kind of thing, but it never became this. It was never this profitable.
Is that because it’s now in the palm of your hand?
Yeah, because of things like the iPhone. So honestly I see Instagram being the main platform for a while longer. I keep seeing other apps pop up, but they’re not going nuts. People are committed to Instagram, and it’s already there. And I think the simplicity of Instagram is one of the main things. Even with Facebook, I’ve been on there since I started college and I literally would just scroll and look at the photos — I was never someone who would stop and read. That’s exactly what they created with Instagram. I do enjoy sharing a little more in my captions these days and like to read captions when people I am following are sharing on a deeper level. Instagram is easy to use and easy to upload and, yeah, I don’t see it going away. But I hope it evolves. I think they need to care a little bit more about the people using it and what they would like out of the platform.